Campus News

Hate crimes on campus increase, with one group the main target

Hate crimes in Madison like the vandalism near a synagogue in James Madison Park have increased dramatically since 2015.

Image By: Photo Courtesy of Madison Police Department

Reported hate crimes on UW-Madison’s campus dramatically increased in 2016 — and anti-Semitic vandalism was the most prominent issue.

The UW-Madison Police Department's Annual Security Report showed an increase from two reported hate crimes in Madison in 2015 to 20 in 2016. Fourteen of the reported hate crimes in 2016 were incidents of vandalism “motivated by bias against Judaism” and performed by a single offender, according to the report.

Although Timothy Arnold, the man responsible for last year’s anti-Semitic acts — which included graffiti left on a wall outside of the Jewish Experience of Madison and on signs posted near sororities with Jewish members — has since been arrested, such vandalism in Madison has continued.

Swastikas were recently spray-painted in red on a historical marker at the start of Rosh Hashana in James Madison Park, a park close to the Gates of Heaven Synagogue.

Phoebe Kiekhofer, a student liaison for Jewish Experience of Madison, said the spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes must be addressed. She said the “silent form of hate” makes her feel unsafe on campus.

“I think that anti-Semitism in Madison is uncovering itself,” Kiekhofer said. “Seeing swastikas in Madison and on campus is alarming, and it’s a way of us knowing that there are people who don’t think we belong. There are people who think we should be obliterated.”

Although the majority of crimes reported were motivated by bias against Judaism, crimes targeting people based on race, gender and national origin increased as well.

According to the report, there were two incidents of vandalism, one incident of aggravated assault and one incident of intimidation motivated by bias against race in 2016. Additionally, there was one incident of intimidation against gender and one against national origin.

Gabriel Javier, director of UW-Madison Multicultural Student Center, attributed the rise in hate crimes to an increase in reporting. According to Javier, promoting the reporting process contributed to the increase.

“I think that the hate and bias incident report form is part of [the increase in reported incidents], and I think the system is more public,” Javier said. “People are talking about it in more places, and places like the Multicultural Student Center, the LGBT Campus Center and other places help students feel heard when they experience [incidents of hate].”

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